Collaborative Brew

Friday, December 07, 2007

First off, I am proud to say that the inaugural meeting of the Michigan Brewers Caucus was this past Wednesday, December 5. It was a bipartisan mix of legislative staff, lobbyists and even a few legislators. The inaugural batch of beer was a doppelbock (fermenting happily away in my converted fridge now); I had considered naming it The Sweaty Monk until I remembered that doppelbocks have to end in "-ator." Our host for the evening came up with Pontificator. For the inaugural batch of beer for a group of politicos, I couldn't think of a better name. Pontificator it is.

Part of my challenge for the evening was for all attendees to bring at least one beer of a type they have never tried before. For the most part, everyone complied.

For my part, and the reason for today's beer review, I got to try a collaborative brew between Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor and Dark Horse Brewing Company in Marshall. Both breweries used the same malts and hops (not necessarily the same amounts) and their own "house yeast" for an Imperial** Brown Ale to see how different interpretations of the same essential beer played out. At the caucus, I had the black-capped Dark Horse version. I am looking forward to getting my hands on the red-capped Arbor Brewing version to taste the differences. It is called Dark Corner.

The beer poured a kind of mucky caramel brown, with a thick, 1 and a half finger foamy beige head which stuck around until I started drinking it. From there it slowly settled into a thin lacing and it left some nice little rings alond the glass as I went, like rings on a's how deep each quaff was!

I got a ton of malty smells like caramel, toffee, caramelized sugar and bread. These gave way to beautiful fruity hops like orange rind or tangerines. The citrus on top of all that sweetness was a really lovely contrast.

I found Dark Corner to have a smooth medium body with moderate carbonation. I picked up on the tastes of caramelized malts and brown bread, and maybe even a hint of cocoa. Then again, after the malt attack, those really nice, almost spicy tangerine hops entered the fray. As Imperials go, the alcohol is not that noticeable. It was a subtle spicy, fruity warmth in the back of the palate. Dry finish with malt overtones.

I found this to be very drinkable; not quite sesionable as the dry finish and tangerine hops could screw with your tongue after too many (plus the booze content is a little high), but very very drinkable nonetheless.

If you can find some of this, I suggest it highly. It's not the most amazing beer I've ever had, but it was worth the search. Maybe our second beer reviewer sopor (Colin) has some of the red-capped stuff?

**this is not an official style. The trend is, though, to take an "official" style, jack up the hops and alcohol content...and thus make it "Imperial." Thus, imperial pilseners, imperial brown ale, etc. The only official Imperial is a stout. That's actually a recognized style.


Sopor 10:57 AM  

Actually Smitty...

I do!! I have some Red AND Black caps left.

Did you buy a sixer? The distributors were supposed to mix the two half and half for each sixer from what I heard... This from BA BigDaddyWill who works at Bello Vino, and obtained my sixer for me.

I'm going to have to give this stuff another shot, as I have to say I was not too impressed with the Black Cap the first time around...

Smitty 1:25 PM  

No...a buddy brought 2 6-ers, one all black, the other all red.

To be clear, it was not the best I've had either. It had some really nice high points to it, like the choice of hops, but it had plenty of pretty standard "meh" points too.

I usually avoid, in my reviews, adding a "score" like an A B C D or 1 - 10 because I simply want people to try new stuff and make their own impression. But were I to score this one, it's a 6/B or B-. Good enough, some really nice points, but nothing that really popped. I can't say it tasted bad (I've done some heinous reviews), it was just not BANG.

Sopor 2:12 PM  

Well this is my first real Friday in two weeks, so perhaps tonight is the night of the Imperials! Could have a Dark Corner Imperial Brown, Sam Adams Imperial Pilsner, Old Heathen Imperial Stout...

that is if I can survive all that "Imperial"! And there's more where that came from =)

Rickey Henderson 2:13 PM  

You guys caucus? That's fantastic. Is there a caucus race like in "Alice in Wonderland"?

Bob "Chief Beer Brewing Extravaganza Advocate" 1:55 PM  

Hey, where can I sign up for that caucus?

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